Over the past few semesters, students and faculty may have noticed renovation and beautification projects around UNO’s campus. Thanks to the hard work of the Student Government Association (SGA) and administrative staff, more alterations are on the way. In an in-depth interview with the Driftwood, Student Body President Nigel Watkins revealed some upcoming changes that can be expected in the spring semester.
Fall 2018 brought two newcomers to campus food offerings: a Moe’s Southwest Grill in the Cove and a Jamba Juice in the Recreational Center.
“Aramark was extremely open to the students’ ideas about what food options were missing from campus,” Watkins said.
The next item on the menu is Subway’s grand re-opening in the University Center as “the first Subway in the region to be updated on their new branding campaign,” he said.
Last semester, the UC also saw beginnings of the SGA’s update to the former print center location. In its place is the new student lounge, which Watkins said is “equipped with new gaming consoles, a pool table, three 60-inch TVs, charging stations and lockers.” Students can look forward to enjoying these updated quarters for free beginning sometime “early this semester,” said Watkins.
Watkins added that the SGA has authorized a bill to beautify the quad. This bill will “open up the front of the library, connecting it to the quad with a terrace and patio,” he said.
To complement these alterations, the SGA has been corresponding with NOLA Tree Project “to plant more trees and plants all around campus,” he added. And to enjoy the new foliage, students will soon be able to rent Eagles Nest Outfitters hammocks for free to be used anywhere on campus.
Additionally, Watkins mentioned the possibility of a collaboration with a bike-sharing company. “If it’s used enough, we’ll be able to roll out a full-scale launch where students can rent out bikes to take all around campus, along the lakefront and to the city,” said Watkins.
Meanwhile, the library will soon receive an update. In last semester’s interview with the Driftwood’s news editor, Sofia Gilmore-Montero, Watkins expressed a desire “to work with the library staff to extend library hours to suit the needs of students who need a quiet and efficient study space,” wrote Gilmore-Montero. After working continuously with UNO administration, Watkins concluded that “students can expect within the coming months to see some major changes.”
The SGA president hinted at the possibility of other upcoming projects, noting that the aforementioned “are just some ideas we plan to put into motion.” Watkins claimed to owe these ideas and their execution in large part to others, mentioning that “LeAnne Sipe, Dr. Kemker, Joy Ballard and LaJana Paige are often behind the scenes but deserve credit … We probably annoy them by how often we ask for their help.” Meanwhile, the entire executive team — Jill Edwards, Amina Batiste and Ryan Williams — “hold down the fort and put in countless hours every week to serve the students,” said Watkins.
The kind of dedication that motivates Watkins and his colleagues doesn’t come from nowhere. “I’ve loved UNO since I first moved on campus freshman year,” he said. “But I also saw that it had a lot of potential. After learning about the pre-Katrina presence this institution had in the city, it’s kind of been the [underlying] goal to get this school back to that state.” The SGA is not alone in this vision: “UNO has a lot of administration and faculty and students that want to see UNO thrive … and be more of a home for students to grow and succeed,” said Watkins.
The designs the SGA put in place for this spring have involved a lot of time and planning. “We really tried to set our goals high at the beginning of the year and worked throughout the semester to accomplish as much as we can with the time we have,” said Watkins. “One thing we often try to avoid is being complacent; it keeps us motivated and striving to do more.”